Gloria Steinem (March 25th 1934) is an American icon, feminist, journalist and social political activist who became recognised as the leader of the American feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
From columnist for New York magazine to author of books such as My Life on the Road, Steinem has led a rich literary life and today we’re taking a look at her achievements.
Steinem’s childhood was far from traditional, born in Toledo, Ohio on March 25th, 1934 she spent much of her time travelling across America because her father was a travelling salesman. Because of this transient lifestyle, Steinem didn’t spend a full year in school until she was 11 when her parents divorced and she went to live with her mother. Even this didn’t bring her anything that resembled a settled life, as she spent many of her teen years caring for her mother who struggled with mental health problems.
When Steinem turned 19 she studied government at Smith College, a women’s liberal arts college in Massachusetts, at this time it was virtually unheard of for women to study politics.
After graduating Steinem travelled to India to participate in the Chester Bowles Fellowship, here she got her first taste of activism, taking part in non-violent protests against government policy. Upon her return to the US, Steinem started working as a freelance journalist and started working for Help! Magazine, a US satirical magazine as well as contributing to other outlets. Despite being a serious political writer, Gloria Steinem was forced into the lifestyle sections and women’s page as most didn’t accept articles by women on serious politics.
By her 30s Steinem had secured her place as journalist, feminist and political activist. In 1968, aged 34 she became a founding editor and political columnist for New York magazine and got progressively more and more involved as a public figure. This led to Steinem writing essays, leading protests, and even testifying before the US senate on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment. In the 1970s Steinem founded the National Women’s Political Caucus, and the Ms Foundation for Women.
Today, Steinem is best known as an author and her first collection of essays, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions was published in 1983, since then she has published nine books, her most recent, a memoir of her life My Life on the Road, published in 2015.
Today, Gloria Steinem is best known about the world for her contributions to the pursuit of equality and women’s rights. She sites on the board of numerous causes and organisations. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom and 83 she became an advisor for the Time’s Up Movement.
We think it’s safe to say that Gloria Steinem has led a pretty full and worthy life. Here are some book recommendations for those who want to read more!